A weekend wedding isn't just a way of stretching out celebrations. A wedding is such an important occasion and one that you spend months and sometimes years planning. Before you know it, the day arrives, you enjoy every moment but then it goes by so quickly. To make the most of this occasion many couples are choosing to extend their celebrations across a weekend. In fact, 80% of couples in the US choose to have a weekend wedding.
Not only does this give you the chance to experience so much more with your guests but it gives you so many opportunities to be creative.
The first thing you must do is set a budget. This is an important element in planning any wedding and with a weekend wedding it enables you to breakdown how much you want to spend on each element of the weekend.
Welcome Party – this ordinarily takes place a day or two before the wedding (but essentially it is on the day that the majority of guests will arrive). Whether guests are local or travelling from afar, having a welcome party brings everyone together in a more chilled way. It also gives you the chance to greet all your guests on arrival (something that you don’t often have time for on a wedding day). You can also spend time talking to guests and introducing people that may not know each other. Guests are relaxed and excited for the weekend ahead, so it is often a wonderful atmosphere to kick start your celebrations. Try and keep it less formal so guests can ease into the weekend and use it as an opportunity to show your personality or your shared interests as a couple.
Some couples are nervous about putting too much personality into their main wedding day as they want to keep it more traditional or timeless, but this welcome party can give you that flexibility and the chance to be adventurous. For example, if you are keen travellers you may want to include national dishes or drinks from your favourite destinations – such as Mojitos or Cuba Libres as signature cocktails if Cuba has been one of your favourite holidays!
Rehearsal Dinner – this is not an element that you have to choose but it does give your close family and bridal party the chance to have an intimate celebration with you. If you do opt for a rehearsal dinner then this can take place before the Welcome party (so you go on to join the rest of your guests following a small intimate meal) or alternatively it can happen on another day before the wedding (it just depends on how long your weekend wedding is and when your guests are arriving).
If you invite your photographer to the rehearsal dinner then they are able to meet your nearest and dearest to ensure they know the shots that are important to you on your wedding day.
I may be biased but I have been told that having a planner at a weekend wedding is so important, as they act as a secondary host, available for guests to speak to when they need to, making everyone feel welcome and at ease throughout the weekend.
The main event – this is usually the day for the wedding ceremony and reception. I’m not going to go into any details about the Wedding Day in this blog – as that would be the content for numerous blogs!
Farewell brunch/lunch – this is a fantastic way to wind down from your weekend of celebrations and it gives you the chance to thank your guests. Even though you’ll have had a lot longer with guests (than you would do with a one day wedding) you may not have spent time with everyone or you may want to spend even more time with certain guests (that may have travelled far to attend) and so this final celebration gives you a chance to do that.
Be careful not to arrange this too early – to give guests a chance to rise comfortably following the party the night before, but equally don’t arrange it too late – as guests may be keen to get going. Consider check out times and your likely brunch guests (you will know them best) when choosing your time.
You will want to keep this informal and you should invite whoever you want to. There isn’t really a set expected guest list for this part of the weekend!
If you’re wanting to use your wedding budget as effectively as possible then reusing elements from the wedding the night before - such as using small floral arrangements as table décor for the brunch - is a great way to do this. Speak to your suppliers for their advice on this.
I love a Welcome Bag for guests. This can include helpful information and some fun additions and should be given to guests on arrival or left in their rooms as a surprise!
Include guidance or tips for how guests should spend their down time in the location. Include a general itinerary of the weekend, guests prefer to know what to expect – this doesn’t have to be every detail, but general timings and titles will help them plan their time.
Use this welcome bag as another opportunity to bring in your personality, or even personalise the contents to the guests (this is obviously more time consuming but means a lot). It can include anything from food and drink to survival kits and games.
This blog has given you an introduction to Weekend Weddings, in my next blog I will cover more of the content and details to consider when planning one. If you need any advice or planning help in the meantime then please do get in touch. I also have my Wedding Planning Power Hours available in my online shop if you would like some bespoke 1:1 advice and tips.